(active 1500-1542 in Viseu)
Adoration of the Magi1501-06
Oil on wood, 132 x 79 cm
Vasco Museum, Viseu
The Adoration of the Magi, is one of the fourteen panels from the altarpiece of the Chancel in Viseu Cathedral, and the earliest dated work of the artist. It is a key work in the evaluation of the impact which the painting and the painters from southern parts of the Low Countries had on the taste of patrons and on the work of painters in Portugal. Despite the controversy surrounding its authorship, everything points to a team, led by the Flemish painter Francisco Henriques, joined locally by the young Vasco Fernandes, elaborating the altarpiece for the bishop of Viseu.
The Adoration of the Magi includes iconographic details which confirm that the altarpiece was made locally. The black Wise King, Balthasar, is replaced by an Indian from Brazil. The closeness in time of this artistic representation (the first in Western art) to the discovery of the lands of the True Cross (Brazil) gives it an extraordinary historical value.